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Monosodium glutamate

Currently there is an increasingly general trend towards the consumption of processed foods , which are very harmful to both physical and mental health. They are foods with a very poor nutritional value that are high in certain substances such as trans fats and chemical additives .

Well, among the chemical additives present in processed foods, monosodium glutamate is one of the most common. It is popularly known as the ” umami ” additive . The reason is that umami is part of the considered five basic flavors , along with sweet, sour, bitter and salty. Thus, it is possible to find it naturally in certain foods such as mushrooms or spinach.

However, monosodium glutamate is the result of a certain chemical process, so it is an artificial flavor . Some recent research has established a link between its consumption and the appearance of certain symptoms. That is why monosodium glutamate is considered a relatively dangerous substance.

GMS history

Monosodium glutamate has a very special bond with oriental cuisine. Its origin dates back to the early years of the 20th century when the biochemist at the University of Tokyo Kikunae Ikeda tried to reproduce the flavor that kombu seaweed brings to dishes. To do this, he isolated the glutamate contained in the ingredient and instead added sodium from the salt.

It was thus when he discovered a new flavor easily recognizable by the human palate, which he called umami. However, it was not until the 1980s that it was recognized as a new flavor as such.

What is the monosodium glutamate?

MSG is an additive that is used to improve and / or enhance the taste of certain processed foods. Its use is widely extended since it allows the taste of this type of food to be fresher. In addition, in the case of foods packaged in cans, it allows to eliminate the metallic taste to them.

Regarding its chemical composition, monosodium glutamate is composed of 78% free glutamic acid, while 21% is sodium. The remaining 1% are polluting substances.

MSG has the ability to fool the body into believing that processed foods taste better and are healthier. Nothing could be further from the truth.

What is monosodium glutamate used for?

MSG is a chemical additive that is used to enhance the flavor of many foods. It is also known as Chinese salt or umami, thus referring to one of the five basic flavors that the human palate is capable of differentiating.

Monosodium glutamate is found primarily in prepackaged broths and soups ; it is becoming more and more common in salty frozen products.

In the case of packed broths and soups, the MSG is 1000 mg per 100 grams of product. In the case of prepared meals, its content can be 800 mg per 100 grams. This chemical additive is also increasingly found in cured meats and sausages, with a content of 500 mg per 100 grams.

It greatly enhances the flavor of this type of food, so it plays a very important role in the food industry . However, a set of symptoms and possible negative effects have generated great controversy around the world about its use.

Why is it addictive?

As we have pointed out, this additive acts as a flavoring. Thus, it causes food to increase its palatability , which generates more desire to continue consuming this type of food. A study carried out in Spain in 2005 carried out in rodents concluded that monosodium glutamate produced an increase in the desire to eat by up to 40%.

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Health risks of monosodium glutamate

Recent research has associated MSG use with a large selection of physical symptoms, some of which have required urgent medical attention. One of the most common signs after eating foods processed with monosodium glutamate is a headache , which occurs in the form of a migraine .

Other symptoms include muscle spasms, nausea and, in the most severe cases, arrhythmias and epileptic seizures . Evidence that explains why monosodium glutamate is a neurotoxin that exerts a certain damage on the nervous system ; it also overstimulates brain neurons.

The reason is that the consumption of foods with monosodium glutamate favors the increase of MSG levels in the bloodstream. Thus, a diet based on this type of food can maintain these levels at higher values ​​than normal for a long period of time. In these cases there is a risk that monosodium glutamate affects brain neurons in some way , thus giving rise to different physical and mental symptoms.

Chinese restaurant syndrome

As we have pointed out, this substance has a very special link with oriental food. Thus, “Chinese restaurant syndrome” is known as a disorder characterized by symptoms such as excessive sweating, headache and dizziness . Although so far there is no scientific evidence that establishes a direct relationship between monosodium glutamate and this type of evidence, experts believe that they occur in those people with greater sensitivity to this compound.


Research in rodents has shown that MSG can negatively affect the brain. This substance reduces the functions of the hormone leptin, which reduces appetite and, therefore, is responsible for regulating body weight.

Neurological damage

Studies carried out in rodents have concluded that MSG causes neurological damage, as well as obesity and even sterility .

These studies and investigations have been carried out in rodents. So far no type of analysis carried out in humans has shown such effects in the body.

Monosodium glutamate and safety

There is a great controversy about the presence of this chemical additive in certain processed foods, so that numerous investigations have been carried out in order to clarify its safety. Well, the conclusion is that it is not ruled out that there is a population group that shows greater sensitivity to the consumption of this compound, but toxic or carcinogenic effects derived directly from its consumption cannot be confirmed .

The negative effects have only been observed in rodents, to which very high doses of MSG have been administered.

In the case of the European Union, experts agree that the maximum daily ingested amount of monosodium glutamate should in no case exceed 30 mg for each kilogram of consumer weight.

Today , MSG is a legal ingredient , so the health authorities have carried out all the necessary investigations regarding its safety. It is not addictive, although it is true that when you taste foods that contain it, it makes the desire to continue eating greater since these foods taste better.


Although sodium glutamate is a legal additive, its continued consumption is in no way recommended. In the same way, it is advisable to avoid the consumption of processed foods since they greatly favor the development of certain diseases such as diabetes or obesity, among others.

It is much more advisable for people of all ages to opt for natural foods, such as fruits and vegetables, for example. Their nutritional value is much richer and, in addition, they have a great selection of benefits and properties for the body.

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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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